My Favorite Proverbs: The Cords of Sin (5:22)
“His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, and he is caught in the cords of his sin.”
This proverb is a good example of why we love to read them. This is an observation about humans and a profound reality of life. Solomon here helps us to admit something which we may only see in others, but never in ourselves. Sin is like the old-fashioned fly paper with which my grandmother caught flies. It was a strip of wax paper coated with a gooey, sweet concoction and flies were naturally drawn to it; then they were stuck, for good. A valuable life lesson from fly-paper is this: “The fly lights on the candy-coated sheet and says, ‘My flypaper.’ He eats his fill, and then tries without success to leave. The flypaper says, ‘My fly.'”
There are at least three kinds of cords of sin that can become wrapped around us:
1. Dependancy. Sometimes the dependency is physical. Opioid abuse, barbiturates, beverage alcohol, etc… will tie a man or woman with such ropes of addiction that there is nothing he/she wouldn’t give for the drug. Many have forfeited a lot—marriage, respect of children, employment; sometimes even life. A person who starts using meth has often begun a slow and painful suicide.
Mental dependency is often just as bad. A man addicted to pornography must fight a real battle prior to his release from the sin. That’s a cord.
2. Financial. My financial welfare may be at stake if I don’t continue my course of sin. Pressure to please the boss isn’t always bad but, if what the boss wants involves cooking the books or exploiting innocent people or outright lying, compliance is sinful, of course. The temptation is strong. The first time a man gives in, though, an invisible but stout cord wraps around him. The temptation to do it again is increased because the employer can now say “But we didn’t have this problem last time.” Pressure to comply in such a case is a cord.
3. Other people. I may have unintentionally involved others who will be seriously hurt if I quit my course of sin. Perhaps a common and most obvious illustration is a marriage to someone for whom Jesus prohibited marriage: “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matt. 19:9). Consider the last line in this verse. It describes someone who marries another, but that marriage is not God-approved. In fact, it is adultery. There are many such examples of hurt inflicted on others when I obey God. I must remember, though, that the reason they are hurt is not repentance; it’s sin. A person’s inclination to protect others (even innocent people) may keep him from repenting. That’s a cord.
If I have joined a religion that conflicts with New Testament Christianity, I will naturally make alliances that will be hard to break if I leave that religion for the true faith (Jude 3), taught by Christ. My friends in that faith may feel that I’ve not only abandoned the religion, but that I’ve abandoned them, too. Leaving a false religion could be difficult to do; yet that is exactly what I must do in order to please the One who will judge me one day (2 Cor. 5:10, Matt. 7:21).
Today, consider that the consequences of turning from sin are not nearly as severe as are the consequences of keeping my sin in this life and living eternally in hell.
Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (Jn. 8:34).
Tonight’s Story Time from the Colley’s:
Read Genesis 44 to prepare to teach your children tonight. Tell your children the events of the chapter.
1. “When we ended last night’s picture of Joseph, he was keeping his identity a secret. There was another strange thing that day: the lunch he had prepared for his brothers had something extra for his younger brother Benjamin. Do you remember what that was? Right!…It was a serving five times as big as any of the others. Why do you think he did that? He seems to be following a tradition in the family. His grand-dad Isaac had a favorite son, Esau (Gen. 25:28). His Dad, Jacob, had picked Joseph to be his favorite son and had made him a coat of many colors to prove it. Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him and grew to hate him because he was the favorite. Do you think it’s a good thing for a mother or father or even a brother to pick a favorite child? How would you feel if you weren’t the one chosen to be the favorite?”
2. Have your children ask a question of you: “Do you have a favorite child?”
3. Now, about that cup…How did Joseph trick the brothers into coming back? Have them tell you about how Joseph hid Benjamin’s money and a silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. Then he sent some servants out to search for the “stolen” cup (only he knew it was really a trick to get them to come back, for a great surprise). Give each one of your children a sack. Have some food from your pantry in each bag and, in one bag, put a silver cup (the closest thing you have…maybe your Yeti mug.) and some dollar bills or coins) Even if you just have one child, this will be fun. Let mom or dad be a brother, too. Send the children away and then, when they get in another room, come after them. Pretend you are the servant and search their bags. When you find the cup, make the children come back and tell them you are going to keep “Benjamin.” Grab him and set him on the table or the couch. See if there’s a Judah. “Does anyone remember what Judah said?” Have them dramatically beg you not to keep Benjamin. Praise them for remembering these details.
4. Let’s see if we can remember what it means to repent of sin. Have your children review last night’s definition of repentance. Joseph tricked his brothers and told them that he would keep Benjamin with him. Judah explained that his father had two sons he especially loved, and one of them was dead. The other was Benjamin, and it would break his heart to lose him. Judah said, “…it will happen, when he sees that the lad is not with us, that he will die. So your servants will bring down the gray hair of your servant our father with sorrow to the grave.” This means that Jacob, a very old man would be very sad if anything happened to Benjamin; so much so, that he would probably just die from sadness. So, Judah asked Joseph if he could stay and be a slave instead of Benjamin.
How is what Judah asked different from all those years ago when Judah and the others sold Joseph into slavery? How did this show Joseph that Judah had truly repented? Do you think Judah wished he could go back and change the way he acted that day when he sold Joseph?
It is this repentance that makes Joseph know that it is time to tell them who he really is.
5. In the morning at breakfast, have a cup with a little money in it, for each child. Let the kids who can answer review questions keep the money for piggy banks or dollar store trips when our pandemic is over.
Who was the brother that was living in Egypt and helping the King through the famine? Which brother was Joseph’s favorite?
How big was the serving that Benjamin got at the special lunch?
What did Joseph hide in Benjamin’s sack?
Which brother wanted to stay in Egypt so Benjamin could go home?
What was the old father’s name…the one who would be so sad if something bad happened to Benjamin?
Did Joseph decide to forgive his brothers?
6. Pray before bed that God will help our hearts to be like Joseph…that we will want to forgive others who have treated us badly.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.